Sheriff offers safe holiday shopping tips
• Always shop with a friend or relative. A single shopper is the best target for theft.
• Tell someone where you are going and what time to expect you to return. Also, make sure they know what you are wearing, as well as the type of vehicle you are driving.
• Shop during daylight hours. If you shop at night, park your vehicle in a well-lit area.
• Dress casually and comfortably and avoid wearing expensive jewelry. If carrying cash, keep it in your front pocket rather than in a purse or wallet.
• Pay attention to your surroundings and avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
• When returning to your vehicle, check around it and in the back seat. Be aware of strangers approaching you for any reason.
• If you feel uneasy returning to your vehicle alone, find a security guard to escort you.
Credit card fraud
• Keep a close watch on your credit card every time you use it, and make sure you get it back as quickly as possible.
• Never leave credit cards or receipts lying around.
• Shield your credit card number so that others around you can’t copy it or capture it on a mobile phone or camera.
• Only carry credit cards that you absolutely need.
• Shred anything with your credit card number written on it.
• If you’re purchasing online, make sure the website where you enter your credit card information is secured through SSL (Secure Socket Layer). You can tell if the site is secure by looking for the gold lock or key icon at the bottom corner of your browser window.
• If you’re not comfortable submitting your information online, call the seller and give your information over the telephone. Never send your credit card information via email.
• Check the company out. Only do business with companies that provide a physical address and telephone number.
• Keep good records. Always print out a copy of any online products or services you purchase.
Gift card fraud
• Never buy gift cards from online auction sites. Many of the gift cards are stolen, counterfeit or used.
• Only buy gift cards directly from the store issuing the gift card or from a secure retailer’s website.
• Don’t buy gift cards off of publicly displayed racks in retail stores. Only purchase gift cards at the sales terminal from the cashier.
• Always carefully examine both the front and back of a gift card before you buy it. If you see a PIN, ask for a different card. If the card looks like it has been tampered with, put it back.
• Always ask the store cashier to scan the gift card in front of you. This will guarantee that your card is valid when you buy it and that it reflects the balance you just charged it with.
• Always keep your receipt as a proof of purchase as long as there is money stored on the gift card.
• If possible, register your gift card at the store’s website.
• Never give your Social Security number, date of birth or any other private information when purchasing a gift card. No reputable company will ask for this information.